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Health & Science

Harris Health System Proposing $70 Million Expansion of Ben Taub’s Trauma Capacity

The project will ensure the historic teaching hospital retains the highest “level one” trauma designation


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Ben Taub Hospital building
Harris Health System
Ben Taub Hospital

Harris County taxpayers could spend $70 million to finance the construction of seven new operating rooms at Ben Taub Hospital in the Texas Medical Center.

"We're extraordinarily busy," said Mike Norby, chief financial officer for the publicly-funded Harris Health, which runs Ben Taub, Lyndon B. Johnson hospital and a network of community clinics.

"We consistently end up having to bump scheduled (surgical) cases for trauma cases, ER cases," Norby said.

The America College of Surgeons had warned Ben Taub administrators they needed to expand and upgrade surgical facilities to retain the coveted level-one trauma designation. A level-one trauma center is the highest possible designation, able to handle the most complicated emergencies.

Ben Taub Hospital has one, along with Memorial Hermann Hospital, right next door. Those are the only two such centers in Houston, though experts say the region should have at least six level-one trauma centers, given the population.

Ben Taub currently has 11 operating rooms, and the project will add seven new operating rooms with updated layouts and equipment. After construction finishes in two or three years, Ben Taub will have 18 operating rooms, in total, but won't use all of them right away.

Harris County Commissioners will consider the bond financing and proposed tax increase next month, Norby said.

Norby estimated Harris County property owners would pay an additional .13 cents a year for every $100 dollars of assessed value, in other words, a fraction of a penny.

For the owner of a $212,000 home (the median sales price in Harris County), the additional tax would be about $2.75 a year. The tax would expire after the 20-year bond term came to an end.

Editor’s Note: A clarification was made to the additional cents statement to emphasize it is a fraction of a penny.

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